Morocco is one of the countries most exposed to geological and climate-related hazards in the Middle East and North Africa region. Because of its geographic position, high rainfall variability, and topography, Morocco is regularly prone to flooding, which is by far the costliest of all hazards in the country. Coupled with geological hazards such as earthquakes and coastal erosion, losses are estimated to cost Morocco over $575 million each year and pose a significant threat to Morocco’s citizens and their livelihoods, particularly vulnerable people in urban settings.
With support from GFDRR and the Japan–World Bank Program for Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Management in Developing Countries, and in partnership with the World Bank, over the last two decades the government of Morocco has developed a strong, cross-sectoral disaster risk management (DRM) and climate change adaptation policy framework. This framework includes the Fund for the Fight against the Effects of Natural Hazards, which acts as an important co-financier of local level structural and nonstructural disaster risk reduction investments and has adopted its first National Disaster Risk Management Strategy (2020–2030), in which flood risk reduction features prominently.
Building on this partnership and the efforts undertaken at the national level, financial and technical support was provided by GFDRR to the Moroccan government to bolster local urban resilience. A key focus of the engagement has been supporting two pilot cities, Fez and Mohammedia, in preparing urban resilience strategies and action plans to develop a holistic and integrated approach for mainstreaming DRM at the city level. The strategies and action plans aim to provide the two cities with a roadmap for 2022–2027 toward becoming safer, greener, more resilient, and more inclusive by identifying key resilience measures to take to mitigate the adverse impacts of disasters and climate change and to protect lives and livelihoods. The strategies were informed by rapid diagnostics, which involved multiple rounds of data collection and analysis at the local level, as well as several stakeholder engagement workshops for each city. These strategies also considered key socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through this collaborative process, stakeholders set out a vision for the cities’ future, anchored in consensus around discrete, implementable actions.
Some examples of urban resilience measures developed as part of the action planning process include Action 2 of the Fez 2022-2027 Action Plan, which encourages the identification and implementation of viable nature-based solutions to minimize the risks due to natural hazards and protect inhabitants, local industries, and infrastructures. Nature-based solutions can be less costly and more effective in the long term than traditional investments that rely on the construction and the maintenance of traditional “gray” or “hard” infrastructure solutions. Another example is Action 1 of the Mohammedia and Ain Harrouda 2022-2027 Action Plan, which proposes the development and implementation of a local strategic framework for managing flood risk and coastal erosion in the context of sea-level rise and intensifying storm surges. This framework would take into account current shortfalls by using prospective scenarios while bringing together various stakeholders, thereby creating a more holistic approach to urban and coastal management.
To further support the mainstreaming of DRM and climate adaptation measures at the local level, Morocco’s Natural Risk Management Directorate at the Ministry of Interior, with the support of GFDRR, created the Urban Resilience Handbook for Moroccan Cities. Aimed at decision-makers and technical staff at the city level, the handbook provides step-by-step guidance on the processes, tools, and resources necessary to develop robust urban resilience strategies and action plans. On October 5, 2022, the Ministry of Interior’s Natural Risk Management Directorate hosted a national workshop to present the handbook, showcase the two pilot engagements, and encourage dialogue among high-level city stakeholders. Over 40 participants, including regional city leaders from across the country, took part in this event to learn about the lessons that can be applied to their city-specific needs to build resilience and protect development gains for future generations. Looking ahead, with continued support from GFDRR and the World Bank, the government of Morocco envisions that many more cities will follow Fez and Mohammedia’s example in developing urban resilience strategies to strengthen DRM at the local level.
Looking ahead, with continued support from GFDRR and the World Bank, the government of Morocco envisions that many more cities will follow Fez and Mohammedia’s example in developing urban resilience strategies to strengthen DRM at the local level.